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History Bites: Resources on the Problematic Term “Anglo-Saxon”. Part 3.

M. Rambaran-Olm
7 min readSep 7, 2020

“We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.” — Angela Davis

This is the final part of the three-part series on the term “Anglo-Saxon.” Here you will find your starter pack on the term “Anglo-Saxon”. The bulk of this work is primarily from when the discussion of the term really started to take off in recent years. The pieces are also primarily open-access writings to make them accessible to the widest audience. I’ve largely excluded books unless they are discussed in this series. To help get you started with some online resources, I’ve compiled a list below but be sure to check out Part 1 for a synopsis of the problems with the term “Anglo-Saxon,” and Part 2 for a Q & A. Remember that this is a starter pack, a launching pad, so you can do more research at your leisure.

Some may wonder why there are no scholars listed that advocate to keep the term in use. There is no justifiable reason to keep the term in use if you care about correct terminology, scholarly accuracy, and ethical scholarship. This isn’t a both-sides argument.

Typical racist responses when the issue regarding the problems with “Anglo-Saxon” are raised. Meme by MRO

Literary historians:

T. Bredehoft. 2017. “Anglo-Saxonists.” Chancery Hill Books. here

T. Campbell. 2018. “Erik “Killmonger” Stevens, Wakanda, and Why MOCs Are Welcomed at Quimbandas. Beyond the Margins. here

R. R. Da Silva. 2021. “The Uses of the ‘Anglo-Saxon Past’ between Revolutions, Imperialism and Racism.” Práticas da História, n.º 12. here

M. Dockray-Miller. 2017. “Old English Has a Serious Image Problem.” JSTOR Daily. here

M. Dockray-Miller. 2019. “The Massachusetts Medievalist thinks about the power dynamics of “Anglo-Saxon.” here

F. Jannic-Cherbonnel. 2020. “Par pitié, arrêtez de dire ‘les Anglo-Saxons.’” Slate (France). here

A. Miyashiro. 2017. “Decolonizing Anglo-Saxon Studies: A Response to ISAS in Honolulu.” In the Middle. here

M. Rambaran-Olm. 2018. “Anglo-Saxon Studies [Early English Studies], Academia and White Supremacy.” Medium. here

M. Rambaran-Olm. 2019. “Misnaming the Medieval: Rejecting “Anglo-Saxon” Studies.” Oxford’s History Workshop Online. here

M. Rambaran-Olm & E. Wade. 2021. “The Many Myths of the Term ‘Anglo-Saxon.’ Smithsonian Magazine. here

Art Historians:

C. Karkov. 2019. “Post ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Melancholia.” here


C. Catling. 2019. “Time to Axe the Anglo-Saxons? Rethinking the migration period.” Current Archaeology. here

A. Gibbons. 2017. “There’s no such thing as a ‘pure’ European — or anyone else.” American Association for the Advancement of Science. here

J. Harland. 2017. “‘Race’ in the Trenches: Anglo-Saxons, Ethnicity, and the Misuse of the Medieval Past.” Public Medievalist. here

D. Sayer. 2017. “Why the idea that the English have a common Anglo-Saxon origin is a myth.” The Conversation. here

A. J. Welton. 2020. “Microstructural History: What Metallurgy Can Tell Us about Early Medieval Burial Practices.” here


D. Wilton. 2020. “What Do We Mean by Anglo-Saxon? Pre-Conquest to the Present.” JEPG. October: 119.4. here.

S. Rhodes. 2019. “Untangling the Myth of Linguistic Purity in the Medieval Classroom.” The Material Collective. here

M. Sundaram. 2019. The ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Problem: Language and Racism in Medieval Studies.” Forum on Race & Racism. Thorneloe University. here


M. Gabriele & MRO. 2019. “The Middle Ages Have Been Misused by the Far Right. Here’s Why It’s So Important to Get Medieval History Right.” TIME. here

S. Hewer. 2019. “Gaels, Normans and Anglo-Saxons: the world of medieval names.” RTE. here

S. Luginbill. 2020. “White Supremacy and Medieval History: A Brief Overview.” Erstwhile: A History Blog. here

J. Palmer. 2019. “Responsible Labelling.” Merovingian World. here

S. Reynolds. 1985. “What Do We Mean by ‘Anglo-Saxon’ and ‘Anglo-Saxons’?” Journal of British Studies: 24.4. here

L.D. Burnett. 2021. “In the US, Praise for ‘Anglo-Saxon heritage’ has always been about white supremacy.” Washington Post. here

M. Wood. 2019. “As a racism row rumbles on, is it time to retire the term ‘Anglo-Saxon’?” History Extra. here

Junior Historians:

J. Durand. 2020. “The University of Cambridge must renounce the use of the term ‘ASNAC’.” Varsity. here

Biological Anthropologists:

A. Roberts. “King Arthur’s Britain. The Truth Unearthed.” BBC TWO. here

P. E. Montgomery Ramirez. “Colonial representations of race in alternative museums: The ‘African’ of St Benet’s, the ‘Arab’ of Jorvik, and the ‘Black Viking.’” International Journal of Heritage Studies. here


M. Rambaran-Olm & A. Miyashiro. 2019. “Academia From the Margins.” Remixing the Humanities with Geoff Way, Devori Kimbro & Michael Noschka. Listen here.

M. Rambaran-Olm & E. Wade. 2020. “Medieval Studies & White Supremacy.” Drinking with Historians with Matthew Gabriele & Varsha Venkatasubramanian. Listen/watch here.

M. Sundaram. 2019. The ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Problem: Language and Racism in Medieval Studies.” Alliterative Podcasts: The Endless Knot. Listen/watch here.

Twitter resources:

A thread on the list of references to “Anglo-Saxon” in Old English manuscripts by Erik Wade: here

A brief synopsis of the problems with the term “Anglo-Saxon” by Erik Wade: here

A thread on the Latin uses of the term “Anglo-Saxon” by Erik Wade: here

A thread on the history of scholarship advocating not to use the term “Anglo-Saxon” by Erik Wade: here

A thread on the late-nineteenth century popularization of the term “Anglo-Saxon” to justify colonization and racial superiority by Erik Wade: here

A thread on English white supremacists co-opting the term “Anglo-Saxon” and advocating for its continued use based on irresponsible scholarship by Erik Wade: here

A thread on how British have been pushing the narrative of the “Anglo-Saxon race” myth for more than 150 years by Erik Wade: here

A thread on honest and responsible labelling and a re-examination of Frank Stenton’s seminal work by Kevin Caliendo: here

A thread on the problematic nature of “Anglo-Saxon” from a linguistic perspective by Mark Sundaram: here

A small thread sampling “the global” in early England by MRO: here

A thread on the misuse of the term “Anglo-Saxon” and what this means for ethical scholarship by Susan Oosthuizen: here

A thread on public outreach and how existing documentaries (particularly by Michael Wood) use the term “Anglo-Saxon” by Kevin Caliendo: here

An example of how white supremacists view BIPOC in the field of early English studies by MRO: here

A thread on the weakest scholarly argument to keep using the term “Anglo-Saxon” in use by MRO: here

Ridiculous responses from ISXX members on the state of the field and the org (which changed its name): here

A short thread on anti-semitism and racism connected to the term “Anglo-Saxon” by Eleanor Janega: here

Racist responses to calls to reassess the term “Anglo-Saxon” and links to white supremacists in the UK by Sjoerd Levelt: here

A thread on British usage of the term “Anglo-Saxon” which undercuts the view that this is just a problem in North America by MRO: here

Additional resources/Works Cited:

A bibliography compiled by M. Rambaran-Olm and Erik Wade. “Recommended Readings for Early Medieval Studies” (2020): here

A more exhaustive bibliography covering the entire Middle Ages compiled by: Jonathan Hsy and Julie Orlemanski. (2017). “Race and Medieval Studies: A Partial Bibliography.” postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies 8 (4): 500–531: here

R. Horseman. Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism. Harvard University Press, 1981. JSTOR. here

J. McWhorter. Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue. The Untold History of English. New York: Avery Publishing Group, 2009.

S. Oosthuizen. The Emergence of the English. Leeds: Arc Humanities Press, 2019.

B. Self. “The Untold Story of English, ‘Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue.’” Medium. here

M. Vernon. 2019. The Black Middle Ages. Palgrave MacMillan. Chapter 1, pp. 1–43.

K. Whitcomb. 2021. The Layman’s Linguist.

Related News Articles:

O. Waxman. “The ‘America First Caucus’ Is Backtracking, But Its Mistaken Ideas About ‘Anglo-Saxon’ History Still Have Scholars Concerned.’” TIME. here

M. Bridge. “Drop the term Anglo-Saxon as it is ‘bound up with white supremacy’, say academics.” The Sunday Times. here

L.D. Burnett. “In the US, Praise for ‘Anglo-Saxon heritage’ has always been about white supremacy.” Washington Post. here

C. Flaherty. “It’s About More Than a Name.” Inside Higher Education. here

E. Harlitz-Kern. “Academics Are At War Over Racist Roots of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Studies.” The Daily Beast. here

H. Natanson. “‘It’s all white people’: Allegations of white supremacy are tearing apart a prestigious medieval studies group.” Washington Post. here

D. Roche. “America First’s Anglo-Saxon ‘Racist Dog-Whistle’ Slammed by Historians.” Newsweek. here

S.K. Burris. “Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene doesn’t know what Anglo-Saxons are — she’s confusing them with Normans.” RawStory. here


British Archaeology. Jan. 2020. here, here (other scholarly contributions in this issue don’t seem to be available online).

Learn the difference

I will keep updating this with relevant links. Onward we go . . .

*My special thanks to Dr. Erik Wade and Dr. Margie Housley for slugging through this series and giving feedback. Also, Dr. Wade has also been through the wringer this year as well, and it’s important to note that without his voice and contributions the discussion about the field and the term would not have moved at the pace it has. One only has to see how much of the above biblio is credited to him to realize how engaged he is with the discussion. His posts and commentary have and continue to be vital, and encourage us to engage in historical analyses and terminology more carefully and accurately.



M. Rambaran-Olm

Literary Historian. Palaeographer. Antiracist Activist. Dual Citizen. WoC. Resident of the 5th Circle of Hell. Lover of 80s cartoons. Twitter: @isasaxonists